Friday, March 16, 2007

I now have 20 Chinese Children




The above photos are a glimpse into how I spent my amazing afternoon today. I was flung into a Chinese public school classroom with a bag of White Rabbit candy, no lesson plan and no teacher for an hour today and I can't remember ever having such fun. My students were fourth graders with a wide array of English vocab words ("America!" "Camera!" "Candy!") and smiles that would melt even Mao's heart. About 20 percent of the students in th school are children of migrant workers and all hail from various parts of urban Shanghai.

Granted, it's been a long time since I've been in fourth grade, but allow me bullet some observations:
-My students were extremely polite. They bowed and said "thank you" at every given opportunity.
-They're all only children, thanks to the One Child Policy, which makes for a fascinating birth order case study. Watching them interact (or not interact) with each other at times reminded me of bumper cars.
-We played Simon Says and they rocked it...I think repitition and following directions are much more revered in the commie early ed system than that of the loosey-goosey individualistic West. In fact, when they flubbed, the looked genuinely concerned that they hadn't paid close attention. I had to laugh it off.
-Much like their older counterparts, they all dance the same (hip wiggle). It's adorable.
-They seemed shocked at the idea of coming up to the board and/or participating in the teaching aspect of things...it took a little ice-breaking for them to take on leadership roles.
-They LOVE candy. But who doesn't?
-For those who are wondering, there ARE red flags hanging in the classroom and I just barely missed watching their synchronized aerobics routine. More photos to come.
-They knew all the words to "heads, shoulders, knees and toes."
-I gave out candy and many of the kids left it sitting on their desks, unwrapped, saving it for later. What restraint!

So in short, I've decided that the only thing cuter than one Chinese child is 20 of them. From now on, you'll know where to find me on Friday afternoons.